Magpies are a 'perfect fit' for me, says Howe
Written by Tom Easterby
Eddie Howe says Newcastle United feels like the "perfect fit" for him after he ended his 18-month break from football to become the Magpies' new head coach.
Howe, who left Bournemouth in May 2020, joined United on Monday, penning a contract which will keep him at St. James’ Park until the summer of 2024.
The 42-year-old admitted there was plenty of interested parties offering him a return to management, but the Newcastle job tempted him the most.
And with his new club struggling at the wrong end of the Premier League table, Howe says he's relishing the chance to get straight to work on the training pitch during the international break as he bids to boost the Magpies' survival hopes.
"It feels fantastic to be head coach of Newcastle. I'm absolutely honoured and privileged," he said. "It's an incredible moment in my life. Judging by the reaction I've had and how the (first) two days of training have gone, it's been a really positive start. I'd like to thank everyone who has supported me, and the board here for trusting in me in this important job.
"Everything just felt right – it really did. The pull of the club is huge. The size of the club, the history of the club, obviously the new ambitious plans, the new owners when meeting them, knowing some of the players, the squad – I just thought it was a perfect fit for me.
"Yes, I've had lots of other options, but I wanted to take my time and really utilise my time away from the game. I feel refreshed and energised, and ready to start work."
On arriving at St. James' for the first time as head coach, Howe added: "It was an amazing feeling. I can't describe it. When you walk through the doors, you walk down the tunnel, you imagine bygone eras, previous players, previous managers and the names connected with those walks down that tunnel. I think it's incredible, and it's certainly brought a feeling that I've rarely experienced in football."
Howe takes charge of a United side currently without a win in their first 12 games of the 2021/22 season in all competitions.
Given their current predicament, Howe insisted that his immediate priority is the preservation of the club's top flight status – but warned it would take a great amount of "sacrifice and suffering" to achieve that initial aim.
"It's all about the short term and the position of the team. We need to try and address that very quickly and move up the league, and the aim is to stay in the league – it's to avoid relegation," he explained. "That's what I'll be working towards, and that's really my main focus at the moment. Everything else can wait for another day.
"I'm absolutely confident that we can, but I make no promises on that. All I can do is lead the club to the best of my abilities.
"I'll give everything to the job. I'll commit 100 per cent, every single day, to try and bring success to Newcastle for everybody connected with the club. I believe we have the ability within the squad, with the players, to achieve that aim, but it's going to take a lot of hard work. It's going to take a lot of sacrifice and suffering in terms of the players giving everything they have to try and commit to the objective."
Howe says his break from management allowed him to "reset, recharge" and "re-educate" himself as he waited for the right moment to return to the game.
And he believes that year-and-a-half out gave him a chance to learn from others, reflect and refocus – making him a "better manager" than he was when he left the Cherries after a hugely successful reign on the south coast.
"Even in work, that's been my focus – self-improvement – and doing that on a day-to-day basis while in work," he said. "But I think it’s much clearer when you're out of work, when you're out of the emotions that football management can bring and you can take yourself away into a different place mentally.
"I've had some fantastic visits, once COVID rules allowed – I've been out and about here, there and everywhere, and I think I sit here now a better manager than I was. Even though people would say I've been out of the game and might question that, for me, I'm more relevant and more in touch than I've ever been in terms of what’s going on at the top level."
"I'll give everything to the job. I'll commit 100 per cent, every single day, to try and bring success to Newcastle for everybody connected with the club."